JEFFERSON — The Ashtabula County Metroparks are seeking a renewal of their .5 mill levy this November.
The levy, first approved in 2014, costs the owner of a $100,000 home $17.50 per year. The levy is a renewal, meaning there will be no tax increases if it passes. It generates $874,000 per year for the Metroparks.
"(The levy is) how we maintain and sustain our parks," Executive Director of the Ashtabula County Metroparks Larry Frimerman said. "We use it to leverage as much ... state and federal grant monies to do what we need to do to effectively grow our parks," he added.
In 2014, the levy passed by 1,790 votes, 14,285 to 12,495.
"Our Metroparks are one of our best assets," Stephanie Siegel, executive director of the Ashtabula County Visitors Bureau, said.
In the past three years, the Metroparks have received $10 million in grant funds, Frimerman said. "That was to both acquire properties, to add new and accessible trails, parking, habitat restoration, benches, picnicking and shelters," Frimerman said.
The Metroparks have grown to cover 1,282 acres, and has increased from three open parks at the time of the levy's passage to 10, today. In addition, there are several different projects in the works, including the North Shore Trail, which will connect the Greenway Trail to the shore of Lake Erie.
The Metroparks is also working on the Pymatuning Greenway Trail. The trail would go from Dorset to the Pennsylvania state line, according to the Metroparks' website. There are plans to eventually connect the Pymatuning Greenway Trail to the Western Reserve Greenway Trail.
"It's that connectivity that removes the barriers and makes it easy for people to come here, and in turn, they'll spend time and money here," Siegel said. "It makes it easier, then, for us to promote the entire county when we have more connectivity," she added.
A new park, Indian Mounds Park in Conneaut will open later this year, Frimerman said.
"If you look at some of the plans the Metroparks have, they are doing what all of us organizations should be doing, and they're looking to the future. They're thinking big, and they're looking at taking steps today that will help us to grow and become something great tomorrow," Siegel said.
"As a public entity, one wants to be a good investment for taxpayers, and we believe that we are not only a good investment for taxpayers, but we're providing a return on investment to the community, and we would like to continue to give the community more of what it wants," Frimerman said.